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North American Geosynthetics Society (NAGS): Year-end report 2011

News | February 1, 2012 | By:

The year 2011 was a very good one for NAGS.

Our new Board of Directors took office in March at the Geo-Frontiers Conference in Dallas: Dean Sandri, president; Bob Mackey, president-elect; Corey Bobba, treasurer; and vice presidents Marolo Alfaro, Richard Brachman, Dhani Narejo, John Henderson, and Jay McKelvey. We are maintaining a healthy membership—we had 32 new or revived memberships in 2011.

Under the guidance of the previous board, the early part of the year was devoted to working with the conference management teams from the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) and the Geo-Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in organizing Geo-Frontiers 2011. We had close to 2,000 attendees and 150 exhibitors at the Dallas event. As a result, NAGS received one of its best financial return from any of the conferences in which we have participated.

NAGS sponsored a student paper completion at the Geo-Frontiers. First-, second-, and third-place cash prizes were given to the top three papers based on a combined score of the written paper and the oral presentation at the conference. There were seven papers presented in the competition. The winning student author was Azadeh Hoor from Queen’s University for her paper, “Application of Thermal Insulation in Landfill Liners.” The 1st runnerup was Ben Leshchinsky of Columbia University for his paper titled “Enhancing Ballast Performance Using Geocell Confinement. The 2nd runnerup was Carmen Franks from the University of Maryland for her paper, “Geosynthetic Filters for Water Quality Improvement.”

NAGS partnered with the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) on several projects including a cooperative effort to get a geotextile separation cost/benefit study funded by the federal government. This was a long-standing proposal that started more than 10 years ago with a Research Needs Statement submitted to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) by the New York state DOT. GMA worked with its lobby team in Washington, D.C., keeping the need for this study visible before members of Congress for the last several years. Last September, after the Autumn Lobby Day in Washington, GMA was informed that Congress has requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to fund this study.

In keeping with the NAGS mission of education, we have been actively working on co-sponsored 1½-day short courses on geosynthetics with GMA. We are trying to hold these in different regions of the U.S. to reach out to new audiences. Watch for e-mails, or go to the NAGS website to see the future schedule ( for these courses. When you see a course scheduled in your region, we would appreciate it if you would pass the information along to others who might be interested.

Looking ahead:

  • We have a conceptual agreement with the Canadian Geotechnical Society to sponsor geosynthetics sessions at its 2013 conference.
  • We also are working with IFAI and GMA on the Geosynthetics 2013 conference, April 1–4 in Long Beach, Calif. I am the chairman of the short courses for the education program at this conference.
  • We are also in the process of submitting a bid proposal for the 2016 Geo-Americas conference.

It is due to member support, both financially and through participation, that has enabled NAGS to continue to carry out its mission: “To provide leadership in advancing the education and research of geosynthetics.”

We know that this support will continue on into the future. Thank you.

Dave Suits is the executive director of the North American Geosynthetics Society.

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